CHAMP at Phillippi Estate Park

 Community Heritage Awareness and Management Program (CHAMP)

at Phillippi Estate Park


CHAMP logo

CHAMP is a partnership, inaugurated by Uzi Baram and Ryan Murphy and in order to sustain the collaboration between the New College Public Archaeology Lab and Sarasota County Historic Resources. Building on a tradition of projects between Professor Baram and the Sarasota County archaeologists (including Susan Lynn White and Dan Hughes) that led to the survey of the Rosemary Cemetery, the excavations at the Venice Train Depot, and exhibits at the Sarasota County History Center, CHAMP makes the goals of the partnership clear to all: raising awareness of the rich material heritage of Sarasota County and surrounding areas and helping to ensure a management that preserves the past and inspires the present. The first CHAMP is at Phillippi Estate Park, thanks to the generous efforts of Interim County Archaeologist Steve Koski. This website gives its trajectory from June 2014 to the dedication of the heritage interpretative signs on November 12, 2106

The focal point to any visit to Phillippi Estate Park is the Edson Keith Mansion, built in 1916.

The Park has several of the buildings associated with the mansion and three archaeological sites among the grounds that include a gazebo, playground, nature trail, canoe/kayak launch, and fishing piers.


Located on the southern banks of Phillippi Creek, the park is 60 acres of protected natural and cultural resources, located on the Tamiami Trail south of downtown Sarasota.


Public heritage interpretation at the park is focused on the Edson Keith Mansion, and the park is committed to the preservation of all the histories on the property.

Mansion and historical marker

Excavations in 1988 located three sites: Archaic period lithic scatter, Manasota midden, and historic refuse. The reports and two follow-up surveys (in 1995 and 1998) and monitoring of a trench in 2015 for an electric line are available at the Sarasota County History Center but not presented at the park. CHAMP at Phillippi Estate Park began with a June 2014 discussion of Heritage at Phillippi Estate Park with Sarasota County representatives

June 2014 Meeting

Much was ongoing already at the park. Ryan Murphy, as Sarasota County archaeologist, has offered popular archaeo-tours of the property 

Ryan Feb 2015 tour

The first step for expanding the heritage interpretation to include the histories from all the components of the property focused on ethnographic observations. Students in Professor Baram’s Fall 2014 Survey of Archaeology visited the park, engaged in appropriate park activities (walked the nature trails, had lunch at picnic tables, et cetera) and recorded their observations of the visitors. Using a structure based on the National Park Service’s site visit form.


The students’ findings provide an impetus for CHAMP


To start a conversation on the heritage at the property, Uzi Baram offered an essay to the Time Sifters Archaeology Society Newsletter (available at

Baram Time Sifters essay

In Spring 2015, students and an alumna interned with Sarasota County Historical Resources at the New College Public Archaeology Lab: Community Heritage Awareness and Management Program at Phillippi Estate Park. They examined the archaeological artifacts excavated in 1988, went through the archival materials associated with the mid-19th century history, and tabled at the weekly Farmer’s Market. The internship produced insights into public perceptions of the park, a detailed timeline for the history of the area in the vicinity of the park, a re-examination of the archaeological artifacts and site plans, and a GIS-inspired mapping of the park and its heritage sites.
Baram Murphy at NCPAL

Nick Arielle NCPAL

Tabling at FarmersMarket
The New College Public Archaeology Lab provides secured space and tools for examining artifacts. Re-examining excavated artifacts with new research questions and concerns is one of the most important steps in archaeological studies. The artifacts from Phillippi Estate Park, excavated by ACI in 1988, are intriguing, hinting at the thousands of years of activities on the southern banks of Phillippi Creek.
ShellTool  Columella
HalfCat  Bottle

After the two semesters of study for the park, Uzi Baram wrote up an Interim Report on Community Heritage Awareness and Management Program (CHAMP) at Phillippi Estate Park: The First Steps. The report is on file with Sarasota County Historical Resources; email for a copy [ - please put Phillippi Estate Park CHAMP in the subject line].

In Summer and Fall 2015, Professor Baram offered free public lectures on the archaeology and history of Phillippi Creek, focused on the research at Phillippi Estate Park, held at Gulf Gate Public Library and Jacaranda Public Library.

Baram PPT Presentation
An impressive 76 people came to the July 2015 Gulf Gate Library presentation, a more reasonable 30 people came to another presentation at Jacaranda Library in Venice, and a similar number attended the December 2015 presentation in North Port sponsored by the Warm Mineral Springs/Little Salt Spring Archaeological Society.

On December 19th, Sarasota County Archaeologist Steve Koski led a tour of the park for members of Warm Mineral Springs/Little Salt Spring Archaeological Society and Time Sifters Archaeology Society (both are chapters of the Florida Anthropology Society).

Time Sifters logo  WMS LSS logo

Excavations on January 4th and 5th 

The excavations expand the Sarasota County Historical Resources/NCPAL partnership to include Time Sifters Archaeology Society and the Florida Public Archaeology Network - West central Region.

NCPAL logo TimeSifters logo 
HistResources FPAN

The key question for any excavation: Why dig? For Phillippi Estate Park, the previous excavations (1988 and 1995) identified the three archaeological sites on the property, offered their time period, and provided a sampling of artifacts. But the materials do not give a clear sense of the peoples who lived by Phillippi Creek; the excavations will seek the extent of the sites and their delineation and recovered artifacts should offer more complete views of lifeways on Sarasota coast. As public archaeology, the small-scale excavations, are preformed in the sunshine (i.e., the public is invited to see the research in action) and with community support (thanks to Sarasota County, Time Sifters Archaeology Society, and the Florida Public Archaeology Network). The Research Design for the Excavations is on file with Sarasota County Historic Resources.

Sarasota County sent out a press release to encourage visitation, inviting the public

Press Release December2015

The response from the media and the public was overwhelming - 500 visitors over the two days. 

Steve Koski - January 2016

Baram - January 2016

PEP Excavations January 2016  Ryan Murphy January 2016

News reports included:

Saturday January 2nd
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Archaeological Dig: Public invited to excavation at 60-acre estate by Billy Cox

Monday January 4th
Sarasota Herald Tribune
Day 1 of dig unearths evidence of 1,300-year-old village By Carlos R. Munoz

ABC 7 News
Historical artifacts found during archaeologist dig at Phillipi Estate Park by Rick Adams

Ancient History Excavated At Phillippi Estate Park by Allyson Henning

Tuesday January 5th
The Sarasota Observer
Public is invited to observe experts unearth ancient tools and more by Amanda Morales

Fox 13 Tampa
Artifacts uncovered at Phillippi Estate Park

Tampa Channel 10 News
Sarasota dig finds artifacts 2,000 years old by Isabel Mascareñas, 

Wednesday January 6th 
Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Sunday Favorites: Digging up the Past by Merab Favorite

Sarasota Government Communications produced a six-minute video on the excavations

Excavations at Phillippi Estate park 2016

Excavations produce the materials but the next steps are crucial for the archaeological research. The artifacts were brought to the New College Public Archaeology Lab. And then washed and rebagged.

Laboratory Analysis of Artifacts - February 2016 Professor Baram’s Method and Theory in Archaeology

artifact bags
Artifacts and Ecofacts from the Excavations, ready for processing
Washing Artifacts Feb 2016

Washing Artifacts - Kim Butler Photo
Washing the artifacts
Waiting for the shells and shell tools to dry

 sorting shells  Sorting shells - Luer and Koski
Key step in the archaeological process is identifying, sorting, and inventorying the finds. Dr. George Luer and Steve Koski work through one bag, in preparation for demonstrating this step to the public on June 25th, 2016 at Phillippi Estate Park

March 16, 2016 Florida Public Archaeology Network hosts activities for children at Phillippi Estate Park, see 

FPAN March 2016 Herald-Tribune

The County created a video with Becky O'Sullivan of the Florida Public Archaeology Network and the Sarasota County Archaeologist, Steve Koski, explaining lithics 

FPAN and Sarasota County Archaeologist on Lithics

April 2016 – Friends of Phillippi Estate Park receives a Florida Humanities Council grant for heritage interpretation signage at the park

FHC logo  
Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of FHCl or NEH

The FHC-funded program brings together scholars and community members to create four interpretive signs, to be placed near the archaeological sites at the park. The signs illuminate the archaeological history of Phillippi Estate Park, and inspire appreciate of the rich heritage beneath the feet of visitors. The signs will be unveiled at the November celebration.

To further understand the landscapes of Phillippi Estate Park, Professor Uzi Baram brought his Method and Theory in Archaeology students to the park for observations. One student, Oriana Reilly gave permission to post her video:

Oriana Reilly 2016 Landscapes of Phillippi Estate Park

The Heritage Interpretation project has increased local interest in Phillippi Creek. The Sarasota County Water Atlas has created a tour of the watershed, with multiple community organizations listed:  
Water Atlas

and Professor Baram has offered more public lectures on the many histories along Phillippi Creek
Plymouth Harbor talk 2016

June 25. 2016 500 BCE at Phillippi - a free, public event at Phillippi Estate Park to celebrate the archaeological investigations and findings.
Phillippi 500 BCE press release

The June 25th event brought more than 125 community members to the Edson Keith Mansion to see the archaeologists identifying, classifying, and inventorying the finds from the January excavations. Thanks to the Florida Public Archaeology Network - West Central Region, the public handled artifact replicas and learned about the process of archaeology, Inside the mansion, they engaged the archaeologists working through the materials, explaining the significance of the shells, shell tools, and ceramic sherds.
June 25th view 
June 25th event

June25th June 25 2016 6-25-2016
News Reports: Laboratory work does not get the attention of excavations but The Observer offered great photographs and report:

Phillippi Estate Park planned for a celebration in November 2016; six students signed up for a tutorial - Heritage Interpretation Practicum at Phillippi Estate Park - that concluded with a performance at the park.

November 12, 2016 – Centennial Celebration of the Edson Keith Mansion with heritage interpretation signs for all the histories on the property

Invite for November 12, 2016

Program for Nov 12th
  Program for November 12th

Chair of the Sarasota County Commission speaking at the dedication of the new interpretative signs

Uzi Baram's remarks at the dedication are titled: The Many Histories along Phillippi Estate
student docents 2016
New College students as heritage interpreters for CHAMP

Oriana  Two docents  McKenzie  
Racheltwo and dog  

One of the Heritage Interpretation Signs
for the public to see, read, and reflect on the many histories and peoples who have lived by Phillippi Creek

The Observer covered the event: Centennial Event at Phillippi Estate Park
ABC 7 (WWSB) filmed a segment on the Manasota peoples, for its series A Place We Call Home, starring Steve Koski 

The Heritage Interpretation Signs for the Centennial Celebration 2016

PEP Heritage Sign

Archaeology sign




How Old is the Midden?

March 15, 2017 Florida Public Archaeology Network presented a public workshop on RadioCarbon Dating. The day started with a tour of the property by Sarasota County Archaeologist Steve Koski, followed by the workshop in the Edson Keith Mansion. Dr. George Luer released the results of the radiocarbon dating of the Prodie Midden (see below for the Final Report that includes the findings). 

RadioCarbon Workshop March 2017

The radiocarbon dating workshop led to the last steps for the archaeological excavation project: describing the shells recovered from the Prodie Miidden. Sherry Svekis led Time Sifters Archaeology Society volunteers in weighing, measuring, and organizing the artifacts in April and May 2017.

TS Volunteers 17    TS2017  
TS volunteers 2017  TSvolunteers

And with the completion of the lab analysis, the final step is the Final Report

The Final Report on CHAMP at Phillippi Estate Park is available online at: 

The Many Histories Along Phillippi Creek

Final Report 2017

Central Goal of CHAMP: increase awareness of regional heritage as a means to create cosmopolitan canopies, places where histories and differences are encouraged and appreciated for the benefit all community members

With the Final Report submitted to Sarasota County Historical Resources and Phillippi Estate Park, the Heritage Interpretation Project is done. Except the team added one of component: On October 14, 2017 there is a dedication of an additional heritage Interpretation sign - for the Archaic Period. 

Time Sifters Image for October 2017 Event

Archaic Sign Dedication Oct2017

Archaic Heritage Sign

But, really, we are done with this program. The rest is up to the public to encourage continuing programming at the Park.

And they have: in April 2019 the Park launched a walking tour app

Cosmopolitan Canopy defined as places where (Elijah Anderson 2004 “The Cosmopolitan Canopy” The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, page 29): “People are repeatedly exposed to the unfamiliar and thus have the opportunity to stretch themselves mentally, emotionally, and socially…the end result is a growing social sophistication that allows diverse urban peoples to get along.”

Phillippi Estate Park Landscapes Oriana Reilly March 2016.wmv
Uzi Baram,
Apr 4, 2016, 5:38 PM